The three black armoured figures stood resolute at the entrance of the tunnel intersection, it's metal walls flowing and contorting like quicksilver. The chrome tunnels parted in places, giving way as more and more steel daemons rushed the Space Marines. Thier grotesque cloaks of flensed skin and flesh were punctured as quickly as their metal hides under the sustained firepower of the Emperors Finest.
Four muzzle barrels, the combined strength of two bolt pistols, a combi melta and heavy bolter reaping a great tally amongst the foe. The metal corpses even stayed down, unusual for them. The walls of the chamber gave them no respite, and soon new foes were dropping from the ceiling to assault the Kill Team. The Xeno's got closer by the second, no matter how many kill shots were made.
Kyros Valcoran stepped backwards and fired his bolt pistol, piercing the soulless Necron up through the torso. The feral Xenos dropped quickly, the round shredding vital systems and stopping rebirth. Valcoran had no time to admire his handiwork, raising his bolt pistols to cover both tunnel entrances, he cut down more of the onrushing horde. To his right there was a flash of light and an burst of heat, Tel'kar was attempting to buy them some time.
"Throne they just keep coming, the Salamander spat, 'Killjoy! some extra fire over here would be helpful!"
The Magma Lord Alro Barax, also known as Killjoy, redirected the wrath of his Heavy Bolter and tore apart the Canoptek Wraith that was descending upon Tel'kar. Normal Bolter rounds wouldn't have scratched the metal monster, but the Deathwatch rarely supplied normal Bolter shells.
"Damn this, we have to fall back. We'll get cut to pieces here and you know it! We have to move to the Chokepoint if we even want to make a dent."
The other two Space Marines knew he was right, but Tel'kar would refuse to abandon a team mate to the foe, and the Headhunter was lost in a silent bloodlust. Suddenly Valcoran surfaced, finally seeing the cold logic of Barax's proposition.
"OK but we hold at the next point, got it?" Valcoran growled, and with a nod from Tel'kar, they ran.
Killjoy covered the two's retreat long enough for them to fall back to optimal firing positions and cover him. It was a simple tactic drilled hard into their skulls, but it was enough. Barax was about to move from the tunnels to the large bridge beyond, when something large and serpentine smashed through the walls. Ignoring the yells of his brothers Barax stared at the alien beast, before its monotonous roaring shook him from his daze.
"I'd like to see you get back up after this." Barax snarled as the creature lunged and he opened fire.
Chapter 1: Praise be the Omnissiah
Astran Amerinus moved silently through the Manufactorum depths, the Tech Priests did not take kindly to his presence, after all he was here to defile their mechanical temple. The infiltrator had to move with caution, the guards on watch near his prize could see him through his shroud, even if all other men could not. Astran dodged two Skitarri on post at the wide plasteel door and slipped into a large, dome roofed hall with several Tech Priests and even a large group of Thallax shock troops from the days of the Heresy itself.
"Unsuprising' Astran muttered grimly "this is the remnants of a force from that time surely."
Three red clothed Tech Priests dragged a large parade of shackled and defaced people. The Thallaxxi shepherded the line of damned souls onto a collosal altar, scarred with markings of long buried things, things that Astran would rather stayed buried. Alas that would never be the case for the Infiltrator, the Ordo required his services, and the Dark Machanicum enclave here was not priority.
It was what they might awaken that was.
Astran watched in grim silence as the men and women chained to the altar were butchered one by one. The Thallaxxi pounced of the terrified figures like a wolf lunging for the throat of it's prey. The slaughter of these damned human beings caused the altar to quake and shatter. A group of shadowy figures obscured from Astran's sight were muttering some blasphemous incantation, and slowly the altar was transformed.
Astran averted his eyes as the room flashed a mind-bending purple-red and the air crackled with ozone. What occurred on the altar that day would pass unknown to all but those who participated, for Astran would not risk his soul by witnessing such an ungodly event.
By the time the light faded, the altar was gone. In it's stead was a being made entirely of molten rock and metal, twice the size of a normal man and glowing with an unearthly light. The daemon carried a colossal maul shrouded in warpflame. This was no corrupted machine and no xeno's pest.
This was a Greater Daemon, and his arrival meant nothing more then the utter destruction of all.
The Infiltrator sped up as the Dark Machanicum Skitarii sluggishly moved through the corridor. The Daemon was at the front of the line smashing through the tunnels with several heavier automatons. Astran was in shock when the mechanical death machines marched into the tunnels, but recovered long enough to activate his gift and follow them. The little mutant somehow managed to remain undetected as the Dark Machanicum force steamrolled along, and Astran was wishing more and more that he had turned tail and ran.
He knew that was not an option, not really. The Ordo had a long reach and if they called for extra help, as unlikely as it would be, he would be dead in less then a day. The Inquisition were more ruthless and merciless then any organisation in the Imperium, and they paid him to well for him to quit now.
Pushing such thoughts aside, Astran was surprised to see a change in the surface of the cave. The walls were becoming somehow smoother, as if they had been polished. Astran felt his stomach squirm with unease has he pushed deeper, trailing the traitorous Tech Priests. Once or twice he saw the shadows move, and though he heard a rapid scuttling noise of metal tapping stone. 'This isn't right' the Infiltrator though,'The chamber construction, the sounds and the lack of anything down here.'
Astran suddenly felt light with relief as a thought struck him. 'There may be no one here. It is possible his Lordship was wrong.' But his logical side kicked in and silenced the shred of hope. He would not be here unless their was something amiss, He did not work for the Ordo Herticus or Malleus. There must be something else afoot.
In his musing he realised that he had lost track of the Machanicum force. Squashing down the sudden spurt of panic, Astran followed the scent of smoke, signs of devastation and his gut feeling. Eventually he found the heretics at a large circular dead end covered in machinery and flickering orange lighting. But nothing was what it seemed.
The Dark Machanicum force was decimated, metal creatures were slicing through them as they desperately fought for survival. Astran knew it was hopeless, even as he saw the Daemon smashing through the chrome creatures lines. Hundreds of thousands of tiny spider-like creatures swarmed the abomination, at first proving to be only an irritation until they were backed up by three larger constructs.
Astran froze. As the last of the Dark Machanicum died, one creature lifted it's head and stared right at him. It's orange eyes assessing, evaluating, debating on how best to kill this unwanted spy. The rest of the creatures were immobile, they could have been no more statues to the idle observer.
Then the monsters surged forwards, and Astran ran.
Chapter 2: Unity and Lies
++SEVEN DAYS LATER. COBRA STRIKE SHIP MOTHER OF INTERVENTION. IN ORBIT ABOVE CHYROXA++
Five members of Kill Team Pythos strode into a briefing room on the Mother of Intervention to find the sixth member already ready and waiting in his imposing Terminator armour. Vrai Mordecail stood at attention diagonally opposite the large marble throne at the far end of the room. The Carcharodon turned to greet the team in his usual blunt fashion.
"You're late. The Inquisitor was expecting us all earlier."
Mordecail practically spat the sentence out, he was hardly a fan of being ordered by a mortal man. The Carcharodon had been a 1st Company veteran for almost half a century, and fought alongside the strongest Space Marines, taking orders from the Inquisitor did not sit well. Kyros Valcoran on the other hand, took a more humorous approach to the matter, laughing as Mordecail threw a glare at the throne. The Star Reaper was in a particularly good mood, finally having a excuse to leave the Throne forsaken ship. The Black Shield Ryth, or the Serpent, simply observed in silence.
"Remember Vrai, we are Space Marines bound to serve. We do not question our master's bidding." chuckled the stern faced Demis Martellan, or the Boulder as he was known. The Librarian was deeply uneasy however, and the reasoning for this was not the situation in the room, but that of the upper rooms, all Gellar shielded.
Alro Barax simply smirked as the Librarian talked, his cynical nature kicking in. Turning to Mordecail, he laughed as he spoke.
"Yes Rampage, we must be good little pawns to run headlong into the fire, so our benefactor here can profit from our "necessary loss". You would love that wouldn't you Pyro?
The Salamander, Tel'kar glared at Killjoy until the self satisfied smirk vanished. It was only the arrival of their new commander that silenced to bickering.
The Inquisitor appeared suddenly for the first time on the marble throne. The man was lean and fit, with a close cropped head of hair and a grey-ginger beard. The Inquisitor smiled as he surveyed the Kill Team with piercing blue eyes, obviously assessing them before they had even landed.
"Welcome Kill Team Pythos, I am Inquisitor Demorcratis. Today you will learn most of the details about your first mission, Operation Killswitch."
"Only most of the details?" Kyros challenged. The Inquisitor chose not to respond.
A large, cylindrical planet appeared in the centre of the room, the team scattering to get a better view.
"This is Chyroxa, the planet we are currently in distant orbit over. The Forge World was recently lost to the Dark Machanicum after a daemonic incursion several years ago. The Dark Machanicum quickly fortified the surrounding area with forces from the Heresy era. This includes-"
"Just cut to the chase Inquisitor, who are we here to kill." Mordecail snapped.
Demorcratis scowled at the Carcharodon and continued with the monotonous briefing. He continued to outline the forces of the recently destroyed Machanicum force, and finally the Xenos abominations that obliterated the Heretic group.
The damned Heretek fools had built their temple atop a deactivated Tomb World, and had dug into the chambers searching for venerable technologies. They had found technologies, but none of them venerable. The Inquisitor droned on about enemy strength and the objectives of the mission, which was asset recovery. The initial disappointment was outweighed by the opportunity to slaughter xenos on mass. Mordecail was in approval of this plan, picturing the large expanses of the underground tomb city filled to the brim with metal bodies. Democratis was harsh in his reprimand however, as the masses of Necrons would easily swarm the Kill Team if they were to hold their ground.
The objective in this case, was no simple purge.
There were questions about the mission. Some where answered, some of those answers were even satisfactory. The majority were dismissed with excuses of clearance levels or a "Need to know" basis. The lack of knowledge did not sit well with the Kill Team, especially Kyros and Ryth. The Serpent was surprisingly vocal on the subject, with the support of the Star Reaper.
"How can we properly combat our foes without the proper tactical information? Withholding this from us does nothing to aid their extermination Inquisitor."
"You have yet to even elaborate on our actual objective? Do you wish us all to die in those tunnels?"
"Need to know? Need to know!"
The Marines stood, taken aback by the outburst from the regal figure. The man scowled, then flickered.
"You will be given all the information you need, but time is short. We must begin the mission as soon as possible to prevent these Necrons from gaining a larger, more consolidated foothold on this planet. Now, you're dismissed. Go to the armoury, you will find weapons specifically outfitted for both you and the mission at hand.
The Kill Team filed out one by one in malcontent silence. Just as Martellan was about to leave the room, the Inquisitor called.
"Not you Librarian, you stay for a moment."
Tel'kar made a motion towards the Dorn's Bearer, but was dismissed with a waved hand.
"Go brother, take the team down to the armoury to prepare. I will join you shortly."
The Inquisitor smiled as Martellan turned to face him, inspecting the Space Marine for what seemed like the first time. Martellan knew the Inquisitor had studied the entire Kill Team before they had even boarded this Voidship.
"We must work together you and I,' Democratis said, " I know it will be hard for your team to take orders from a mortal man, but we must co-operate. For the good of the mission and the good of the Imperium that we protect. You will find me hard to trust no doubt, it does not matter. If you follow your instructions then we shall prosper. The sword kills only when the eye directs its blows, correct?"
The Dorn's Bearers felt otherwise, trust was essential in all fields of warfare, but he would honour the pact between the Ordo an the Watch, he simply gestured to the figure on the throne and replied.
"This is not you, you hide from those you command."
The Inquisitor smiled, as if pleased a lowly Space Marine had seen through his deception
"You are correct Librarian, this is not my true appearance, nor is Democratis my true name. But this matters not. You are in my service and must complete the assignment i have given you. Now I will ask you only once, do we have a problem?
Martellan stiffly shook his head. None of this sat well with him, but he pushed his personal feelings aside, he had a job to do. He would not dishonour himself or his brothers in arms.
"Good, now join your team in the armoury. We leave in a tencycle."
Chapter 3: With Bolter and Blade
The Stormraven flight to the surface was alive with a tense atmosphere and the click-clacking of Bolter weapons being cycled. The team hadn't been given the opportunity to select their own armaments for the mission, and were instead supplied with a selection of bolter weaponry loaded with the newest Anti-Phasic rounds. While nobody knew exactly how the rounds worked, they stopped Necrons from getting back up after you shot them, which was a welcome addition.
The dropship suddenly lurched violently, as engines ignited and the forward ramp lowered. They were hovering several metres above the building below, an easy jump down. With a metallic thud five pairs of boots hit solid ground. Five only, as Mordecail was held back for a later entrance. The five shadow cloaked figures quickly removed a section of the manufactorum roof, then swiftly attaching a set of winches and launched themselves into the shadowy, Chaos drenched building. Alongside these figures a large black cube was lowered, twisting and shaking as it did so.
As the team descended into the base, their helms lighting the dark, they noticed the sheer amount of devastation the Hereteks had brought upon themselves. Surprisingly no bodies littered the floor, all had been effectively removed by the Necrons for reasons one could not begin to fathom. Signs of battle were much more common, with almost every section of the cavernous, industrial place scarred from a furious fight.
Kyros hit the ground first, bolt pistols up and surveying the room. As the rest of the Kill Team detached from the ropes like spiders from a web, the Star Reaper finished his cautious sweep and opened the Vox Channel.
"Goshawk 2 DZ is clear, drop the payload."
A second Stormraven seemed to materialise above the hole in the roof, blocking out the harsh pale moonlight as it did so. A bulky black package slowly descended from the heavens, complaining and growling the entire way down. Eventually this package landed, and a shape even bulkier then the others broke from its tight restraints. If nervous tension was visible, the interior of the derelict building would be covered in a thick blanket of it, choking and smothering the Space Marines inside.
"Goshawk 2 payload is down, setting supply mules now."
The first crate opened, revealing its contents to be three servitors with ammunition packages strapped all across their frames. A compact communications array and servo skull unfolded along with them. While one of the bulky figures attached the array to the side of the manufactorum, discretely hidden, the others prepared to descend into the depths of a hell of living metal.
"Vox check, Alpha aye."
" Pythos 2 aye."
"Pythos 4 aye."
"Pythos 5 online aye."
"6 aye, can we just kill the bastards already?"
The servo skull blinked, slowly ascended, then broadcasted.
"Democratis online, Operation Killswitch is now a go."
Chapter 4: Flesh over Steel
The six Space Marines and the diminutive Servo Skull moved slowly through the winding labyrinth of tunnels and caverns dug by the fanatical Dark Mechanicus. The corridors were tight, with Mordecail struggling to push through in his Tactical Dreadnaught armour. In this dark, oppressive place the warriors of the Emperor clung to their weapons as if they were life bouys. Lest they be washed away by the flood that would soon be upon them.
"How far are we from the objective Inquisitor?" Demis said to the floating servo skull " I cannot keep track of these tunnels with the detail needed for a swift extraction."
The skull blinked, then turned " Much further down, you will find a particular piece of technology the Ordo has a great need for. We find that, take it and extract immediately."
"What of the Necrons" Kyros asked sharply, his bolt pistols still sweeping the darkness "Will they not come for us before we pick up this package?"
"They will come, but not yet."
They passed into a large cavern, with what appeared to be a half destroyed Mechanicus outpost. Interestingly, only minor structural damage was received by the structures present, with many ad-hoc stations and laboratories largely untouched by the markings of gauss damage typical of Necron warriors. Instead, the majority of the area seemed as if it had been slashed by thousands of oversized chainswords. The place was decimated.
Barax walked up to one of the three supporting beams holding up the ceiling.
"So not only do we have no evidence of actual Necron weapons used here, but they left the place intact? To what end?" The question was directed at the servo skull, which did not oblige Killjoy with an answer.
However, Killjoy's skepticism proved predictably incorrect. The first signs of the Kill Team's entrance into the lair of the machines was a scuttling from behind the very stone walls themselves. The next clue was when those stone walls became flowing steel.
"Well Killjoy, there enough evidence for you now?" Kyros grinned, gripping his pistols with a renewed sense of anticipation and bloodlust.
The Heavy Bolter wielding Astartes simply growled in distaste, his sharp eyes scanning the strange steel corridors they moved through with a strange consistency, similar to that of an churning quicksilver sea. Kyros himself began to drift, slowly moving further away from the tightly clumped group of his own volition. Ryth moved at the rear of the pack, his keen eyes scanning covered ground and hands gripping his Boltgun and Chainsword. Tel'kar and Vrai moved together with a strange coordination, The Salamander slightly dwarfed by the Terminator, his flamer simply poked out from behind his walking bulwark. Demis looked to his team, expecting tension, and found the beginnings of something else; Cohesion. Every Space Marine had his place in the Kill Team, fulfilling his role and complimenting the others. Whatever their past tensions were, they'd quickly been lost behind a consummate professionalism and the cold charade of readiness.
Demis knew their temperament would be tested any minute now.
"Boulder, I've got contact! Looks like Flayers, Democratis was right."
"Acknowledged, Get back here now Valcoran."
"Leading them back Alpha, keep me covered. "
Demis nodded to the rest of his team, who in turn loaded their armaments. They'd placed two ammo caches in key positions on the way down, hopefully they'd be enough to wether the ever looming storm.
The first thing the Kill Team saw was Kyros and the flashing of his Bolt Pistols. An instant later, those bolts were joined by the salvos of a Kill Team worth of finepower.
The Necron Flayer's appeared from the darkness as if grim spectres of macabre metal. Their bodies graced with the mutilated bodies of the Dark Mechanicus and their supporters, the creatures launched themselves at the resolute Space Marines.